Category Archives: ramblings

Why You Should Be Printing Some Photographs

On a recent trip to Disneyland and to Chicago, I was struck by how prevalent the use of smart phones, in particular the iPhone was being used for photos. People were taking photos of themselves, where they were, friends, short video clips, long video clips, video conferencing to friends while on the road and more. Heck, I had a Nikon D700 with me and I still used my iPhone to snap a few shots of Chicago. What I did not see were any people sharing PHOTOGRAPHS, only electronic images. No wallet prints, no small albums or any other printed media. People were passing around their phones and other devices.

John Hancock Tower Chicago

In talking with a some of these people, I  learned that very few of them actual printed the images on to paper, ever. The images lived on the phone, Facebook, Flickr or home computer. They were  looked at briefly online and then never seen again as new images take their place. And unlike photo albums of years gone past, nobody pulls out their cell phone or laptop at home to look at pictures.

As it turns out, very few people are printing any of their photographs any more. That’s a real crime in of itself,  but it also goes to show that prints should be part of your collection. Yes, you can have a thousand images on your phone or tablet but what good are they if nobody ever sees them?  What good are they if the kids can’t see pictures of their vacation because they don’t know where the images are out on your hard drive, they don’t have access to your computer or they dont know what widget the images are on? How can they share with friends at school about where they went on vacation or show off to neighbors?

We re losing something precious by not printing photographs. Facebook is well and good but we humans are tactile bunch. W want to touch and hold in our hands things like prints. And it’s not the glow of a tablet, we  want pictures that do not require software, hardware, power supplies, dim rooms and all that goes it with the digital generation of viewing pictures.

This is something we as photographers need to educate our customers to do  and we need to do it ourselves. When was the last time you made 4×6 prints to show off to friends your last vacation around the dinner table or coffee shop? Did  you just dump a few hundred images on Flickr or Facebook and call it good? People get excited about holding real pictures.. They get excited about real time sharing of stories. They get excited about touching pictures. It’s time to get excited!!  Make some prints and spread them around!!

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Important things to remember

Just a short piece today.. I found an awesome short video that reminds us of the important things. Enjoy!

 

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Long Live the Pocket Camera, the Pocket Camera is dead

the top and sides of an iPhone 3G S.
Image via Wikipedia

Yet another single use device has bitten the dust or I should say, is biting the dust even as I type this. The “pocket camera” or “Point and shoot” is dying a fast and unlamented death. The cause of death is the smart phone of which no matter which one you use, iPhone, Droid etc, now have a reasonable camera built in. It’s the old “good enough” syndrome of the consumer. The smart phone hits the mark in convenience and is good enough for most consumers to grab that snapshot.

When I’m scouting for locations, do I pull out my Canon G11? Nooope.. I pull out my iPhone with the GPS and then shoot and tag. I use my G11 about once a month if that. I use my iPhone at least once a day to shoot a picture of something. It could be a reminder of a phone number, a product in the store, something I’m doing that friends would find interesting.

Just the other day, I replaced the seals on my medium format camera. As I did the job, I took the iPhone and shot pictures every  now and then and put them up on Facebook in seconds. Not real time but close and alot of people enjoyed it. Could I do that with my fancy G11? Not a chance. I would have to shoot, upload to the computer, resize and then upload. The phone literally took seconds to complete the entire task. And that included enhancing the images using software on the phone.

Facebook which has the most pictures online, even more than Flickr which is one of the best photo sites, has some interesting statistics.  Facebook at last count has something like 50 BILLION pictures uploaded on it’s site. Flickr shows that it’s most popular camera is the iPhone 3G with the typical Nikon/Canon DSLRs in the 2nd/3rd slots. Not a point and shoot anywhere to be found in the top listing. Personally, I take shots with my iPhone and load them straight to Facebook. I’ve become so used to that feature and the ability to shoot an email on demand, I would not consider any pocket or point and shoot that didn’t do this. Nobody wants to shoot images on their point and shoot and then take it home, transfer to the PC, fix them and then upload to Facebook or Flickr or whatever. They want to shoot and go right then. And so long as the image is good enough, they are happy.

Most popular camera on Flickr

Most popular camera on Flickr

PSExpress, CameraOne and Best Camera are three apps I use all the time on my iPhone. Between the three, I can normally get a “good enough” image out of my iPhone. Would I shoot a wedding with it? Nope.. but as a guest I would be happy to use it to get the occasional snap. I will say that once I used my iPhone 4’s video, I never shot video on my Canon g11 again. The phone was just that much better then my 500 dollar camera.

Does anyone want to buy a slightly used G11?

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Altered Memories

Genius G-Shot DV610 digital camera
Image via Wikipedia

I heard a comment the other day where the speaker made a reference to how well his childrens early years are documented due to digital camera, video recorders and cellphones. The more important mention was how all this documentation has already altered their memories of the early years. I thought about it some and yes, I think he is right. My own children have more images and movies of themselves from the last several years than I do from 40 plus years. They watch themselves on the TV or computer play at 6 months old over and over. These memories have been burned into their memory now by just raw repetitiveness.

I wonder how this will affect them in subtle ways ? Us of an older generation always seem to have golden memories of childhood or special events. Thats part of the joy of memories at times. With the barrage of documentation for my kids, I wonder if they are going to loose that fuzziness brought on by the normal diffusion of memory over time. Are they going to have golden memories or just plain old memories and there is a difference.

I think this falls into the “unintended consequences” category. When digital cameras came out, we or at least most of us thought, cool! I can take pictures all the time for cheap. And we can and we did but now we are starting to see some consequences of this ability. I’m not sure if this much documentation is such a good thing but I also understand that fighting it is much like fighting windmills..

I know with my own children, I have backed off the constant documentation of their lives and I have slowed down letting them watch all the slide shows and video clips in order to let them form their own memories first. I’ve seen small changes already just with waiting a few weeks before they see the slide show of the last block party or birthday party. They process their own memories, toss what they dont want and will tell me their favorite parts. Then when they see the slide show it seems to be more enjoyable for them. I also limit how many times they can see it, left to their own devices, they would watch it a zillion times in a row 🙂

Is any of this important? no idea but I dont think I’m hurting anything and who knows, I might be helping them in a small way.

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The art of selling

A few years ago I decided to go from being an “Amateur” to being a “Pro” with my photography.  Alot has changed from when I took my first photography classes in the early 80’s but some things have stayed the same. I learned about David Hobby and the whole “strobist” movement. I learned about flash,  overpowering daylight, composition, posing, the business of photography  and more recently, selling.

Selling? selling what you ask? Isn’t that the same as the photography business? Not so much as it turns out. To be a professional photographer is as much or more about selling than it is your images. Sounds a bit off doesn’t it? I mean images are my stock in trade, it’s how people judge me, right? Not exactly as it turns out. When you are trying to sell a wedding for example, you are selling something of a dream to the bride. She wants her day captured in the best possibly light and in a style that she likes. But what she does not understand or at least most dont, is that she is also judging you, the photographer. How well you relate to her, how well you two can talk and laugh and most importantly, how much she trusts you in order to pay a fair amount of money for something she wont see till after the wedding is over and the guests have gone home.

Yes, you are selling yourself to her and to every other customer you meet. How you present yourself and your craft will have more of an impact on your business than how much cool equipment you have or even how your pictures look. This selling of yourself is not just your clothes or how you talk either, it is where you meet and how the overall package of “you” is presented.

Let me share a story about something I saw just the other day. I’m in a Starbucks on my way to an OpLove shoot and I see a young woman looking at wedding pictures by herself at the next table over. The whole situation caught my eye and I placed a bet with myself if she was meeting someone there. About 10 minutes later, here comes the photographer who apologized right off the bat for being late as he pulls out sample albums and they start talking.

So what is wrong with this? I mean there are alot of photographers who use Starbucks as a cheap office space. They have coffee, wireless and tables. It’s also not your home with the kids, the dog, the cat and so on, sounds perfect right?

Not so much for really getting that sale or even the best type of sale. Let me explain a few things here.

  • First the photographer was late, that is one of the worst things to do with a potential client. It will leave a lasting impression that says you are somewhat unreliable.
  • Meeting at Starbucks with loud music playing so you have to yell over the sound is not professional at all, not even in the slightest. In this story, the added joke for me was the song that was playing, Mr Mojo Rising was playing as the bride  started to look at albums. What kind of comfort level does she have looking at your albums? Remember, your photographs push emotional buttons and that emotion is what will sell your images. If the emotion is overwhelmed by a desire to get the hell out of the Starbucks, then you are not going to sell nearly what you could.
  • What is this client going to tell her friends about you, the photographer? that you are not really a professional because she had to meet you in a Starbucks? I know of people that can make their business work this way but I really wonder if they are having to work even harder than they should be to overcome the presentation of meeting in a noisy, crowded public store front to conduct your business?
  • I know of several high end wedding photographers that meet in their house or they own/rent a house that they use for a studio. Why? because it works people!! Selling a 10,000 dollar wedding is not going to happen in Starbucks or Dennys but it will happen in the studio with good light, quiet music, someone being attentive to the customer and the customer feeling very comfortable. Ever wonder why the Mercedes dealer is more like walking into a fine house than the Chevy dealer with the tile floor and the tasteless cubicles? Now if you like booking 800 dollar weddings, do what you like but if you want to really book the good stuff, start raising the bar for yourself and really think about how you want to present yourself and your craft. I know of another photographer who can not afford a studio yet but rents one that has a very nice area to present the albums, videos and slide shows. Why? because it makes his upselling alot easier. He rents for a block of time and runs one or two clients through it during the rental time. It’s a lot of work but it pays off for him.
  • Read!!!  Read about selling and marketing. I’m doing this now and I really feel that I should have done it three years ago before I upgraded any equipment I had. Get a copy or the audio book by Seth Godin called Purple Cow, New Edition: Transform Your Business by Being Remarkable. Another really good book on marketing is by Robert Provencher  and called Exposed: The Naked Uncensored Truth to Running A Successful Photography Business. There are more, many more but these two I have found to be very helpful.

With all this said, do  I have studio space? Not yet, I’m looking around at commercial sites right now and  have been for a month or so now. I do rent space when I need it and Robert Provencher made a point about leveraging what you DO have and not whining about about what you DONT have, in this case, professional space. I do have a house and I do have toys everywhere but he had some interesting things to say about marketing something I thought of as a liability and flipping it to be an asset. When I need to sell right now, I try to meet at the clients house where they are the most comfortable and so far it works. What I will not do is to meet a client at Starbucks and try to sell high quality photography in that type of environment. It’s not the way I want to sell, it is not how I want to be known and I do not want my art presented in that fashion.

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Down the rabbit hole

Sometimes you need to be reminded what the priority should be and not what your think it is. I decided a few weeks back I wanted a new website where the site and the blog were one and the same. I dislike most “Photography” blogs since you end up with miles of images to scroll down through. I like blogs that are informational like what I’m doing right now. I dont like pages of stuff just to look at. The website has images and key info but it’s pretty static, too static in my opinion for today’s customer. So I start to look around. This blog is based on WordPress and I can use a “Theme” to divide up the content and give a “look and feel” to it that fits with my branding or my personality.

So I started “theme shopping” and there are ALOT of themes to choose from. But I did not find one I really liked till a few days ago. I liked the demo and so I bought it for a very cheap price. There was a reason why it was cheap. Just to get the basics to work right, I had to hack my way through a few pages of code and work out what they had done or not done. No biggie so I think, I can do this. After all, I am a geek and a pretty damn good one if I say so. The problem was that I have now spent almost four days on this stupid template and I was very much caught up in it and into it. I do like coding when I have a project like this and I can and have wasted hours on projects like this.

So today I’m listening to a podcast called “This week in Photography” (TWIP) and they are interviewing the owner of Livebooks.com. One of the things that was mentioned just jumped out at me. If you are working on your site, you are not shooting pictures.  Sounds like a no-brainer but when you are down the rabbit hole, you dont always see the light till someone shines it in your face.

In my case, I was way down the rabbit hole and I needed the light really bright to remind me that while coding is fun, it’s not helping shoot, get business, develop new skills like photo painting and more. I need a site and I need to do it with the minimal time and effort on my part. So my template efforts are being put on hold for now and I’ll stick with this simple blog for the time being. It’s not very fancy but it is serviceable and I dont think it is ugly, just kinda of plain.

I did look at Livebooks since they also made some very good points about trying to keep up with the various media players to support like the iPhone, iPad, Android etc..etc. Again, another time sink that I should avoid. I do have a plug in for iPhone support and it was free and fast to install. That worked well but spending time to develop or to hack something into working for me is not what I should be doing. I need to making images.. I need to be bettering my skills with photoshop, Lightroom and other revenue generating skills. After all, people who pay me want pictures and choose me for my skill at making pictures, not for my coding skills or website design.

So if anyone knows a really cool but easy to set up template for a blog/website, let me know.

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Off Topic

So photography is one of my passions and I put alot of time into it and sharing it in places like Facebook and here on my blog.

But today I am going off topic to just get a few things off my mind. I had a very good friend whom I use ride bikes with almost every weekend, who introduced me to my wife, who I shared a lot with over the years and who died a few years back.

Well, he sorta of died in a sense. To be precise, the person I knew did die but his body is still alive and kicking. He had a ruptured brain aneurysm which in turn led to a stroke that almost killed him in the shower. They got him to the hospital in time to save him but he spent weeks there, paralyzed on one side, till they moved him to a halfway house for more recovery. I went and saw him often at both places and I helped him go home. Success right? I mean he survived a terrible event and now is back home on his own. Yes and no, my friend is home but the essence of who my friend was is gone. The unmentioned fact about many brain injury victims is that their self, their personality, who they are will change or be lost completely and replaced by someone else.

I saw a special on cable about this and they said that it takes about three years for the family/friends to finally work this out. And it was true for me, it took about two years for me to understand that my friend really did die that day and while his body is still here and it looks and sounds like my friend, the essence of my friend, that part that really made him up was gone forever.

At one level I understand the mechanics of this but I feel guilty about breaking off the friendship. I knew this guy for years and he was there for me in a couple of bad times. So why can I not do the same? Because it’s not my friend anymore.. it’s someone who I really do not like very much. Someone who can be mean spirited and cruel at the drop of a hat. Someone who at times sounds like an echo of my friend till he goes off on me.

So every now and then I remember my friend and the good times we had and toast him in my mind. I have a few pictures of us together, I really wish I had more pictures. Take pictures of friends and family, takes lots of them and dont worry if they are not “professional”. They may be your only link with them if something terrible happens like this.

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Traveling Light

Don’t you just love being invited to see someone’s travel pictures? Does the groan escape your lips before you can stop yourself or do you just bite the bullet and suffer quietly? But here is the kicker question, how do YOUR travel pics look to everyone else? hmmmmm? Thought so.. so here are some tips on creating memorable travel shots that wont put your audience to sleep OR cost you and arm and a leg in glass.

Bones of a BE2c

My first tip is a bit odd and not so much a tip as something to think about. Travel is all about seeing the sights and experiencing new things, people and places. Unless you are getting PAID for the trip, it’s NOT about dragging two bodies, half dozen lenses and assorted equipment along. So my first piece of advice is to consider, strongly consider getting a really good point and shoot camera.

In my case, I got a Canon G11 because I truly believe that Nikon’s point and shoots are best left home. None of them equal the G11 in features or flexibility. I also feel that Nikon is making serious mistake with that line of marketing. But anyways, there is the G11, there is the slightly cheaper but in some ways, better S90, the Panasonic LX3 and there are the newer four thirds which are a a marginal point and shoot with swappable lenses. I tend not to include the four thirds in this talk because of their size. The Canon G11 is almost too big but still qualifies as a “point and shoot” due to it’s fixed lens and smallish size.

I suggest a good point and shoot because when traveling with one like the G11, you have virtually all the control that you have with the DLSR. You do NOT have swappable lenses but then the zooms on the P/S camera are pretty amazing at the ranging they can work. I just spent a week in the UK and never pulled my D300 out of my ThinkTank bag. I shot everything with the G11. This leads to another tip.

Leave 90% of the “must have” accessories at home. I did a week in the UK and never used my remotes, my SB800 flash, graphics tablet, D300, 17-55 F2.8 lens, 50mm 1.4 lens, spare batteries etc. I DID use my Epson P5000 to archive my images from the Sd card, I DID use my Macbook Pro for email and fast edits for posting to Flickr so friends and family could see a few shots as I went and I DID use my USB hard drive for my Time Machine backups while in the room. So when thinking about the trip and really think about what you plan to do, be ruthless! Most museums will NOT let you use the fancy flash and/or camera without hassling you about it. Nobody gave a damn about my G11. I lived in my Luma Loop strap and it was great at the checkpoints where I could just unsnap the camera, hand it to security and then snap it back on. No mess and no fuss trying to lift straps over my head and jacket. I like it much better on my G11 than I do on my D300. For my D300, I prefer the Rapid Strap but since we are talking about lightweight point and shoots, really take a look at the Luma.

I consolidated quite a few of my chargers down to three and one I didnt need. The AA charger was not needed since I never used the SB800 flash I brought. The old Razor charger works on my Crackberry and is lighter and smaller than the OEM for the Blackberry. I had the Canon charger and a USB cable for the iPhone since it can charge while connected to the laptop. I had two more USB cables, both the same type so I could plug in both my flash card reader and the external HD at the same time. I did bring a spare power pack for the iPhone for while I was on the airplane since it was 11 hours of flying time and time at the airport. I also have a small two piece plastic stand that holds the iPhone horizontal and at a 50 degree angle for watching movies or podcasts. I brought spare earbuds since I have them fail before.

So what can you do with a point and shoot you ask? Am I going to “give up” anything? Yeah, weight and size. A good point and shoot can perform almost as well as the DLSR. Note I said Almost.. not As well. There is some give and take but we are talking TRAVEL pictures people, not the cover of Vanity Fair or Country Life. You want nice shots that wont bore people to death when you show them. And that my friend is more of YOU than the camera. So learn how to use the point and shoot CORRECTLY. It’s not the same as your DSLR and it will require a different technique to some degree. And it will require more post processing to get the most out of the image. There is distortion in the wide angles, noise even at relatively low ISOs like 400 and on my G11, a distinctly narrower tonal range between shadow details and totalling blown highlights. The G11 also fringes blue like mad on blown or close to blown highlights. So experiment before you leave and make sure you understand the limits and how best work around them.

When I use my G11, 90% of the time I am shooting full manual mode. I tend to shoot ambient light and the G11’s smarts do not do so well with backlit scenes. There is a feature on the G11 that I absolutely love. I can be in full manual, focus on the subject and dial up or down F stop and/or shutter in real time and see the changes on the screen. No guessing, I just focus and dial in what I want it to look like or as close as I can get. This is such a cool thing is nasty lighting like a dim church or museum. I dont have to take the camera away from my eye and look at the screen to see the shot. I just hold it up, focus and watch the screen in real time. The G11 also has a rotating screen which I LOVE!! My old Nikon 950 has one and that is the one feature I miss the most on my D300/D90.

Another tip is to shoot RAW if you can. The JPEGs on the Canon just plain out and out suck. In RAW, I can recover alot of those “blown” highlights and pull back the fringing if I want. I also can run my normal workflow of Noiseware and a highpass filter which gives me clean and sharp images. Much better than the in-camera JPEG processing could ever hope to be.

Use the built in flash but use it wisely. In other words, dont turn it on and leave “on”.. learn to set it just like you do aperture or shutter speed. The built in flash works very well as fill for getting rid of those nasty shadows under someone’s eyes in bright light. It works very well to bring up the shadows in a dim museum assuming you are allowed to use the flash.

Amanda Oxford Portrait

Play with different techniques and post work flow. Dont be afraid of blur or Black and White. I learned a trick from Jack Davis (How to WOW) about using slow shutters while shooting out the window of a moving bus or car for an impressionistic look. With a bit of luck, it looks very cool. Also, take interesting shots of family, they are the models traveling with you and since they tend to ignore you anyways, play into that.

Rider
Blue Skies

Black and white is easily accomplished with today’s tools and remember, it’s BLACK and WHITE, not middle grey which is what you get with default settings of greyscale. It’s all about tones and texture in B/W, not color so strong subjects, close ups and something with a large tonal range can work very well in B/W.

WWII in B/W

Stairs of Light

Dont forgot to use interesting composition!! Dont take the same damn shot everyone else takes. Well, take it first and get it out of the way then start experimenting. You have digital film for pete’s sake, damn near unlimited assuming you either have a large flash card or you brought spares. You DID bring spares yet?

Hyde Park in London

Museum of Natural History Oxford

And FOOD!!! Remember, this is traveling and you are not eating at the same old places (you had better not be!) So sometimes, the food can be quite interesting to shoot and share with friends later.

Pizza

Every one of these pictures were taken with my point and shoot Canon G11 under a varity of conditions. All are not your typical crappy image out of a point and shoot. The equipment helps but in the end, the photographer working the camera makes the biggest difference. The point and shoot allows you to travel very light on equipment and in many ways, frees you to be more creative by doing more with less. Try it and I think you might yourself addicted to using the point and shoot alot more than you think you will.

Happy trails!!

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iPhone Camera, toy or real?

One of my biggest complaints against the iPhone is the dinky fixed focus camera that Jobs had put onboard. With most other phones, five megapixals is pretty much the current standard but Apple for unknown reasons, went with a 2 megapixal camera and not even a high quality one at that.

Of course, this just adds to the challenge of taking a quality picture with it and in truth, once you work out a few things like how to trigger the shutter without moving the phone, it can take a decent enough picture. My old Nikon 950 was only 2 megapixels but it had really nice glass and not a chip of plastic as a lens.

Software can go a long ways to improving a picture and the iPhone is not any different. You can get a free version of Photoshop on the iPhone and it really can work wonders on these pictures. I have an unretouched image of my Thinktank International V2 bag sitting at Sacramento Airport and then one after I did some enhancements in the iPhone Photoshop app. It made a very noticeable difference.

Before iPhone Photoshop

Here is the retouched image

After iPhone Photoshop

I did all this just sitting in my chair with my iPhone and my finger. No special hardware, software or anything else. I just snapped it then loaded the mobile version and touched it up. Now I just need to find a noise reduction app for the iPhone. I dont know about anybody else’s iPhone, but mine makes very noisy pictures unless it is a brightly lit picture. This is one of the weaknesses of the iPhone camera, it’s junk in low light. No other way to put it but simply, it’s simply junk in low light. I have been able get a few nice shots at night or in a dark room but it’s more luck than anything else.

On the other hand, I have been surprised at times with what I can get with the iPhone. This image was taken out of the plane’s window while buzzing along at speed and in the low light of twilight.
Flying over Oregon

This is a pretty usable image all things considered. And given that it was taken with a phone and not a “real” camera, all the better. But that last comment is a bit unfair I guess. I have taken very nice images with the iPhone, remembering it’s limitations and working around them. This next image was taken in the dim light of the waiting area for Captain Eo at Disneyland. I did some touch up in iPhoto to color balance it and raise the saturation a bit, nothing more than I do for most of my images nowadays.
Captain Eo Redux

I think it is perfectly acceptable to send around to friends and family as a decent snapshot. And I had the added luxury of not lugging my DSLR around for the day 🙂 So once you work out the constraints of the iPhone, it is a very usable tool. Not perfect and Apple could have certainly done better, much better without too much effort on their part but I get the feeling that Jobs is not a big fan of cameras in phones and so it was added very grudgingly. Thats a shame.. because a “Apple Quality” camera would have just about made the phone perfect.

What is very cool about the iPhone camera is the ability to shoot and send it right away via email or SMS. There have been times where I found something for sale, shot it, sent it with a question and gotten a response back in time to grab a deal. You can shoot barcodes and get the lowest price in the area for the widget, talk about leveling the playing field. I have used it to shoot impromptu location scouting trips where I see a place that I like and I rip off several images to keep on the phone. Some complain about the lack of a flash but then I have not really seen the need or even one that really works well so I dont worry about it too much. In the picture below, you can see how I’m documenting a photo shoot with my iPhone in part because I had a 70-200 F2.8 slung around my neck and I wanted a close but wide shot. This is what I call a “personal reference” shot, normally seen only by myself to provide some visual details on something. But here I’m sharing it and I’m sure you can see the value in using the iPhone for something like this. And it’s a pretty good image given how bright the backlighting was.

Flashing Fundy

So in one way, I happily bash the camera and Apple but then I use it in some key ways that I could not easily do with my Razor or Treo in spite of them both having cameras. The iPhone integration just makes something just so much easier than anyone else. I just wish it was better.. but then I always think that about most of my toys 🙂

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Self Improvement or how to Stop Whining and start Learning

I should be used to it by now, the ability of people to delude themselves that they can survive by being stagnate or by grousing how they are “owed” or “entitled” to training/self improvement etc. In a past life, I ran a website for data network security and offered alot of free resources for training either from myself or from others I knew in the industry. Sometimes the training cost a few bucks and man, did people complain about “I dont have the money” while they were posting comments about being at Starbucks five times a week, chasing tail at the bar or hitting movies at the theater. I took several to task about this contradiction in terms by pointing out that the training in question (about 150 dollars) could easily be paid for by cutting down on the lattes each week for several weeks, quit the bar scene for a few weeks (figuring 5 bucks a drink several drinks, cover charge etc) or missing a couple of movies dates ( figuring 10 a head, two heads plus popcorn/drink possible dinner). That just wound them up even more when it was suggested that to better themselves, they might need to make a small sacrifice to get it. Amazingly short sighted.

Now in photography with things changing very quickly, I hear photographers complaining about the same thing. It’s too expensive, I dont have time, it’s too far and a host of other excuses. Lets see, I pay for my training out of pocket since I dont work for a studio, I travel across the country a few times a year to get to it and I have to juggle my three kids at home with the training. Somehow I manage to get it to work out and I’m a better photographer for it. A few days of expert advice can save me months of time trying to work out techniques on my own. And thats not counting the peers I’ve met and friendships that have come around from my classes. Success in the business world is as much about the personal network you have as it is how well you can shoot and process pictures. Sometimes it’s more important as I have had a couple of gigs land in my lap not because I’m a well known shooter (not yet) but because I knew someone who knew someone else.

I’m writing this missive while cooling my heels in an airport lounge waiting for a connecting flight to attend a seminar by FundySOS which has great promise to improve my workflow, shooting techniques and more. Not a bad deal for 500 bucks for the class, another 500 for the airfare and three days of my time.

I buy alot of DVDs of training and I’m a long time customer of Kelby’s online training. At 20 bucks a month for all I can watch, it’s a heck of a deal. DVDs can be taken where ever I go which is very handy at times. The result is that in the past two years, I’ve learned more than if I had struggled on my own without any instruction. I could NOT afford to do the training if I want my business to succeed. Take this blog as an example, Kelby has a cool set of training for photographers using WordPress and at the end of two nights, I had added several cool plugins to help with my posting, added some custom features, learned about Zoomify, found a way to export out galleries really easily and more. That would have taken me days of digging on my own assuming I even found the information. Is this worth 20 bucks for the month? Hell yes it’s worth it. How much is YOUR time worth to you and your business? As a client, dont you want to see a photographer who is ontop of the latest technology and techniques so you can get the very best images for your money? I thought so, we all want the best value nowadays.

So before you complain about how tough it is to get training, how expensive it is and how you can not afford the time, can you really afford NOT to find that training somewhere? Can you really afford to spend hours and hours working out a technique when 30 minutes on watching the expert would show you how? Think about it..

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